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O'Brien Party of 7

Reincarnation The Songs of Roger Miller – 2012 (Howdy Skies)

Reviewed by Ron Hart

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Roger Miller is one country singer-songwriter, who, like the title song on this delightful tribute by O'Brien Party of 7, needs to be reincarnated today. In many ways Reincarnation: A Tribute to Roger Miller, is a worthy reinvention of a fine entertainer and artist. While it's been nearly 50 years since Miller burst on the scene becoming the first (and only) pure country singer to sweep the Grammy pop categories, as well as win a Tony for his score of the musical, "Big River" based on Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn"; this new album represents what is hopefully the beginning of a new appreciation for his artistry and song-craft.

This album also represents the debut of sibling artists, Tim & Mollie O'Brien's family band, Party of 7. With the help of both artists sons and daughters, they bring some of the lesser known tunes of Miller's catalog to life with sweet-harmonies, bright acoustic-new grass instrumentation and straight ahead interpretations. Especially fine is the duet on, You Are My Kingdomby sisters, Bridget and Lucy (Mollie's daughters). The arrangement and vocal by Tim's son, Jackson, on Miller's tongue in-cheek, Guv'ment, from "Big River," brings a loose fusion of ragtime and bluegrass that the song begged for from its inception. The only Miller hit covered on this collection, King of the Road is completely reinvented as a mando-driven, Bill Monroe-influenced session.

As a tribute to great artists of the last 50 years, Tim O'Brien continues on his roll with "Reincarnation: A Tribute to Roger Miller." As a debut family musical collaboration, it's fresh and free-styled with obvious fun found in the groove of the album. As a reminder of the legacy of Roger Miller, one of America's finest songwriters, this album may just send the listener back for a much needed listen and appreciation.